'Room of the Dead' by Amanda Oosthuizen
One room is left in the rubble of buildings and inside a bright light streams from the square, shattered window. She raises a fog of dust as she moves amongst the debris. The furniture is long gone, scavenged by the sly and quick-footed. All that remains is a curtain swinging in the breeze, a damp cushion squashed in a corner, a threadbare rug and a mound of plaster. Not a photograph or an old newspaper provides this place with a story.
Jutting from the back of the plaster mound she sees a slim black box. She tugs it out, hopeful for a keepsake, and unfastens the clasps.
She turns the flute over, taps the keys, watches light spring from the silver and dance a jagged line from key to key. In another world it’s a sheath of bright corn but dried out, sprayed like a Christmas decoration that misses the point. She eyes the tunnel of the tube. No spittle. The breath that brought it to life has long dried up. She touches the fingermarks, placing hers on his and gasps, it’s too much like a kiss. She lies the body in its box, settled in its dark blue velvet and closes the lid fastening each clasp slowly, listening for the click. She cuts her fingers as she buries the box beneath the rubble.
How much music has soaked into the walls of this room? The reds and browns absorbing sound, the curtains and cushions sagging and billowing, plump and sweet and shrill. She remembers the deep throatiness of his low notes. Perhaps these tones hide somewhere amongst the cracks, in the deepest recesses amongst the brick and cobwebs.
But the case is sealed and buried now. The music is over. And this room too must be rid of its darkness, stripped of its thick years of music. He has played his last notes and she too will put an end to the music. There is no more to be had.